When it comes to professional sports teams, the history and success of a franchise is often closely tied to the players that have worn its jersey. This rings true for the Minnesota Wild, a relatively young franchise that entered the National Hockey League (NHL) in the 2000-2001 season. Over the years, the Wild have had their fair share of ups and downs, but one constant throughout their history has been the impact of iconic players.
From the humble beginnings of the franchise, the Minnesota Wild have seen a number of players who have not only left their mark on the team’s history, but have also shaped the landscape of the NHL as a whole. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the impact of these franchise legends and their contributions to the Wild’s success.
The Early Years: The Founding Players
In the early 2000s, as the Minnesota Wild were preparing to enter their first season in the NHL, the team had to build their roster from scratch. This was done through a combination of selecting players in the expansion draft and signing free agents. Some notable names that were selected in the expansion draft included defensemen Brad Bombardir and Dwayne Roloson, and right winger Jim Dowd. These players, along with others, laid the foundation for the Wild’s early years and helped the team establish its identity.
But perhaps the most impactful addition to the team during this period was the signing of left winger Marian Gaborik. The young Slovakian quickly became one of the Wild’s top players, breaking records and leading the team in scoring for several seasons. Gaborik’s electric play on the ice and his growing popularity among fans helped put the Wild on the map in their early years.
The Rise of Parise and Suter
After a few years of relative mediocrity on the ice, the Wild made a splash in the 2012 offseason by signing two of the biggest names in the league, forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. The duo joined the team with high expectations and did not disappoint, bringing a new level of talent and leadership to the franchise.
Parise, a native of Minneapolis, returned home to play for the Wild after spending several successful seasons with the New Jersey Devils. Known for his gritty playing style and scoring touch, Parise quickly became a fan favorite and has since become one of the team’s top scorers. Suter, on the other hand, brought a steady and reliable presence to the Wild’s blue line. His ability to control the pace of the game and his knack for getting the puck up the ice has made him a crucial piece of the team’s defense for over a decade.
Together, Parise and Suter have led the Wild to numerous playoff appearances and have become iconic figures in the team’s history. Their impact on the franchise cannot be overstated, as they continue to mentor and lead the next generation of Wild players.
The Captain: Mikko Koivu
In 2009, veteran center Mikko Koivu was named the first permanent captain in Minnesota Wild history. Since then, he has been a cornerstone of the team and one of the most respected players in the league. Koivu’s leadership on and off the ice has been instrumental in the Wild’s success, and his contributions to the team have not gone unnoticed.
Koivu has consistently been one of the team’s top scorers and has been a reliable presence at center for over a decade. His leadership and dedication to the organization have made him a fan favorite and have helped mold the Wild’s identity. In a league where trades and movement between teams is commonplace, Koivu’s loyalty and commitment to the Wild is a rare and valuable asset.
Building for the Future: Young Stars
As the Wild continue to build towards a championship, a new generation of players is emerging and making their mark on the team’s history. Young players such as Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, and Kirill Kaprizov have shown tremendous potential and have already made significant contributions to the team.
Fiala, acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators, has emerged as one of the team’s top offensive players. Greenway, a physical force on the ice, has established himself as a crucial piece of the team’s future. And Kaprizov, the team’s most recent addition, has quickly become a fan favorite with his flashy playmaking abilities.
While these players are still early in their careers, they have already made an impact on the Wild and have given fans hope for a prosperous future.
As the Minnesota Wild continue to build towards a championship, the contributions of iconic players cannot be overlooked. From the early days of the franchise to the current stars, each player has left their mark on the team’s history and helped shape its identity. With the continued success of current and future players, the Wild are primed for a bright future as they continue to add to their franchise legends.